Thursday, August 15, 2013

Limiting Extracurricular Activities

Funny, I wrote a post about this same topic at around this very same time last year. I spend a considerable amount of time every August with pencil, paper, computer, telephone and calculator in order to set up our weekly routine of outside activities. The kids love their outside activities and they have gotten a lot of joy and confidence out of them, but they can quickly turn into a burden, as I have found out in previous years. All that driving around can be tiring-especially for me! If there are too many scheduled events going on, there is little time left for good, solid school hours, getting together with friends, or just hanging out at home. Also, four kids in activities can get very expensive. This year, we are attempting to set some ground rules.

  •  One guaranteed activity at a time, within reason of course!This means if you want to ride horses you probably aren't going to take dance. If you want to play soccer, swim team is most likely out. Even one activity per child means four separate activities per week though, as my kids have different interests.

  •  Participation in a second activity may be possible, especially if it is one a sibling is doing.  If budget allows and we are going to be there anyway, they can go ahead and join in! If it's a totally different activity though, it has to fit just perfectly in the schedule, otherwise it probably won't happen. The priority is very much the first-choice activities. Everything else is gravy.

  • Swimming however, counts against no one. It is super cheap, not very time intensive, and most of all I want them to be strong swimmers. So in this area, we do make some schedule sacrifices.

  • We need at least two unscheduled weekdays and one unscheduled weekend day. This is to keep my sanity, give everyone downtime, allow time to get together with friends and family, do chores around the house & "farm",  take a field trip, or just go to the dentist!

  • Mornings are sacred. That is our homeschool time. I try to avoid scheduling appointments before lunchtime and we avoid most activities in the morning. We do make an exception here and there for a homeschool group field trip or other educational activity.

  • We have to be home for dinner more evenings than not. This is getting trickier as the kids get older, but I think it is no less important to strive towards this goal. I don't want to be on the run every evening scarfing down sandwiches on the way to oboe practice. I want to cook, sit down, and eat. Maybe even have a conversation.

So with that all said, the kids have pretty much made their choices for the upcoming year. Grace will be doing horseback riding, Christopher will do archery and rock climbing (with his brother), plus swimming. James will do rock climbing and swimming, and Rose will do gymnastics and swimming.

That definitely feels like enough, though Grace is interested in taking some art classes and if I can find a reasonable one that fits in with our routine, we may do it. As with most things, moderation is key:).

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